China to chart more stable economic course 03-08-2004 15:59

China has announced plans for modest economic growth and lower inflation in 2004. This is an effort to help the country's struggling rural regions. In his report to the ongoing NPC session on Saturday, Ma Kai, State Council's minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said China was aiming to keep the world's sixth largest economy from being buffeted by what he described as "big ups and downs."

Ma Kai is the latest senior official to signal the easing of an economy closely watched by the international community.

The National Development and Reform Commission is a powerful ministry in charge of steering China's economy. China targeted economic growth of around 7 percent in 2004, a more modest pace than last year's growth rate of 9.1 percent.

He said China aims to check inflation at 3 percent, and cap growth of the broad money supply at around 17 percent.

Ma Kai said, "Our main macro-control targets for 2004 are as follows: Economic growth rate around 7 percent. Nine million new jobs for urban residents, and the registered urban unemployment rate confined to 4.7 percent. A rise in the consumer price index of about 3 percent."

Outlining other economic targets, Ma said China would work to perfect the exchange rate mechanism of its currency, yuan, while keeping it stable.

China has resisted calls by the US, Japan and others to revalue the yuan, saying the economy is too fragile to handle a sudden change, but that it is committed to relaxing controls over time.

Ma said foreign trade is targeted for an 8-percent rise. China's exports jumped nearly 35 percent while imports soared almost 40 percent in 2003.

Resolving to reverse a steep slide in grain output last year, Ma reiterated a grain production target of 455 million tons for this year, which will be a rise of 5.6 percent.


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